Antiques & Collecting: Cookie tins were grocery store staple

This is not a bookshelf full of books. It is an antique tin box that held cookies (called biscuits) in England about 1905.

Grocery stores in the past were very different. The use of automobiles, starting about 1910, changed the way folks shopped.

Before 1900, grocery shopping was done at a street where farmers gathered to sell their produce. Then the markets moved into large buildings that rented space where farmers and customers bartered for food. Some farmers moved to residential suburbs and opened small grocery stores. They sold staples, like flour, sugar and tea, as well as fresh food. Clerks took the order and packed it.

But in 1916, the first supermarket was built in Memphis, Tennessee, and customers were able to choose their items, put them in a cart and take it to a cashier. That led to branding with eye-catching packaging and the modern chains of grocery stores.

Huntley & Palmer, an English bakery, created tin boxes by the 1850s to ship and sell their boxed cookies, called biscuits, so they wouldn’t get broken. They started making the figural — and now very collectible — tins in 1894 and made hundreds of different shapes. The bookcase tin was made in 1905, and this top-quality example sold recently for $270.

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Q: My mother bought an Autumn Leaf wall pocket for me. I think it was part of the reproduction’s resurgence and not the original 1930s to ’40s Autumn Leaf. Can you tell me what it might be worth?

A: Autumn Leaf pattern was made by several companies. It was made exclusively for the Jewel Tea Company, a home shopping service, by Hall China from 1933 to 1978. Some kitchenware and teapots were reintroduced in 1985 and sold in retail stores. The Autumn Leaf wall pocket was made by China Specialties, a company in Strongsville, Ohio, that began offering limited edition pieces of Autumn Leaf in new shapes in 1990. They were made in Asia and are marked “Genuine China Specialties.” They sell for under $30.

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Q: I have an antique phonograph handed down to me from my grandfather. It looks like a standing Victrola, but the tag says it’s an Almaphone. I can find no information on this, except an excerpt from a 1918 book “The Music Trades,” which says the Rhodes-Burford Company was handling it at that time. I’m interested in selling it, but have no idea what it’s worth. It’s in working condition (the records play well), but a wood slat was replaced in the front and there are repairs to one of the legs. It’s also missing the part that controls the volume.

A: The Almaphone was named for Alma Gluck (1884-1938), a popular opera singer who was also a recording star. Gluck, whose birth name was Reba Fiersohn, was born in Romania and immigrated to the United States as a child. Her first record was released by the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1911. Her records were so popular that Victor sometimes released two or three titles a month. She was the first recording artist to sell a million copies of a song. Rhodes-Burford Company was a furniture company with locations in several cities. There are collectors of old phonographs, but your machine is missing a part. Some people buy old phonographs just for the cabinet and repurpose it for something else, but your cabinet has had some repairs. As a vintage piece that could be repurposed, it may be worth $50 to $100.

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Q: I bought a pretty plate at a garage sale and would like to know how old it is and what it might be worth. It has a floral center, fluted edges and gold trim. The mark on the bottom is an outline of the state of Ohio. Inside it says “Trojan 8 by Sebring, U.S.A.” and underneath the mark it says “Warranted, 22-K-gold, Toledo Delight.”

A: Sebring Pottery was in business in East Liverpool, Ohio, from 1887 until 1948. The mark with an outline of Ohio was used from about 1925 to about 1942. Toledo Delight is the name of the pattern. Plates and other pieces of this pattern sell at online shops. A 6-inch plate sells for about $15, a 13-inch platter for $29.

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TIP: Coffee or tea stains can be removed from a cup by scrubbing with salt on a sponge.

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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Journal, New Ulm, King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Cut glass powder jar & cover, clear, cut crosshatching, fans & diamonds, round, squat, stand-up rim, American Brilliant Period, 4 by 6 inches, $35.

Candy container, Village Church, tin lithograph, stained glass window graphics, cross on top, 2 by 3 by 4 inches, $125.

Lunchbox, Beatles, Yellow Submarine, scenes, Beatles caricatures, metal, 1968, Aladdin, $215.

Currier & Ives print, On the Coast of California, view of the Pacific Ocean from a cliff, hand-colored, 1850s, frame, print 11 by 15 inches, $405.

Toy, Little Orphan Annie & Sandy, Annie pulls Sandy, figures on platforms with wheels, celluloid, key wind, Kuramochi, Japan, box, 6 3/4 inches, $530.

Popeye, store display, Pop-Up Spinach Can, cardboard, pictures Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy, holding 12 tin lithograph cans, Mattel, 1957, 14 by 13 inches, $675.

Doll, Madame Alexander, Cinderella, plastic, Tosca wig, blue taffeta gown, rhinestone crown, slippers, 1955, 8 inches, $920.

Cupboard, wood, painted yellow, 2 2-panel doors, 5 shelves inside, bootjack cutout base, 1800s, 50 by 41 by 23 inches, $1,100.

Mechanical bank, Bulldog, pull lever, tongue sticks out, place coin, release lever, coin deposits, tin lithograph, Saalheimer & Strauss, 5 inches, $1,790.

Dress clip, triangular, platinum, baguette & round diamonds, beaded accents, art deco, each 1 inch, pair, $3,625.

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